Jose Mourinho has confirmed that first-choice goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois will return to the matchday squad for Chelsea's Premier League clash against Bournemouth at Stamford Bridge. The highly rated Belgium international has been out of action since early September after undergoing surgery to correct a knee injury sustained in training, with summer signing Asmir Begovic filling the void in his absence.
While Courtois will be involved, however, last season's champions will still be without the services of John Terry as he continues his recovery from an ankle problem that saw him stretchered off during the Champions League victory over Maccabi Tel Aviv last month.
Industrious midfielder Ramires is still absent with a muscle problem picked up in that same fixture in Israel, and Monaco loanee Radamel Falcao is still not available for selection thanks to an unspecified knock that has kept him sidelined since early November.
"John Terry, Ramires and Falcao are still out, Courtois is selected [for the squad tomorrow]," Mourinho confirmed in his latest pre-match press conference. "Thibaut was our keeper all last season and you know how fundamental he was, it's important to have him back. 19 matches without the best goalkeeper in the world was tough for us."
Courtois' return to fitness is certainly positive news for Chelsea following a dire start to their title defence, which has left them 14th in the table and 14 points adrift of pacesetters Manchester City following a run of seven defeats from their opening 14 matches. The 23-year-old may have to bide his time slightly in the short-term, though, with Mourinho hinting that his first start since August is more likely to come in the crucial Champions League Group G tie with Porto in midweek.
He added: "Clearly, sooner or later he will be my No 1, so if he doesn't play against Bournemouth then he'll play against Porto."
One additional injury concern relates to the condition of Nemanja Matic. The Serbian international took an accidental arm to the face from Erik Lamela during Chelsea's goalless draw against Tottenham at White Hart Lane last weekend, but is not expected to miss any time despite requiring treatment for a bad blow.
"Nemanja Matic has a double fracture to his face, his nose and his cheekbone, but he has been to get the mask and he can head the ball," Mourinho said. "The vision is good even in the mask so he is ready to play."